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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Taliban closes Afghanistan’s only women-run radio station for playing music during Ramadan

The Taliban has shut down a women-run radio station in Afghanistan – the only one in the country – for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan. 

Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in northeastern province of Badakhshan, said the station, “Sadai Banowan,” was shuttered for breaching the “laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate.”

Najia Sorosh head of Sadai Banowan a women-run radio station, right, speaks with her Staff in the broadcasting studio in Badakhshan province, north-eastern of Afghanistan, Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023.

Najia Sorosh head of Sadai Banowan a women-run radio station, right, speaks with her Staff in the broadcasting studio in Badakhshan province, north-eastern of Afghanistan, Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023. (Sadai Banowan via AP)

“If this radio station accepts the policy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and gives a guarantee that it will not repeat such a thing again, we will allow it to operate again,” Ahmadi said.

Sadai Banowan, which means “women’s voice” in Dari, was started 10 years ago. It has eight staff, six of them female.

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Station head Najia Sorosh denied any wrongdoing and called the closure a conspiracy. The Taliban “told us that you have broadcast music. We have not broadcast any kind of music,” she said.

Sorosh said at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate arrived at the station and shut it down. She said station staff have contacted Vice and Virtue but officials there said they do not have any additional information about the closing.

Newly recruited personnel joining Taliban security forces demonstrate their skills during their graduation ceremony in Herat on Feb. 9, 2023.

Newly recruited personnel joining Taliban security forces demonstrate their skills during their graduation ceremony in Herat on Feb. 9, 2023. (Mohsen Karimi/AFP via Getty Images)

Many journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover in August 2021 following the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops. Media outlets closed over lack of funds or because staff left the country, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.

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The Taliban, meanwhile, have barred women from most forms of employment and education beyond the sixth grade, including university. There is no official ban on music. But during their previous rule in the late 1990s, the Taliban barred most television, radio and newspapers in the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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